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Friday, April 26, 2019

Thornton P. Knowles On Writer Suicides.

Some of the world's most famous writers ended their lives with suicide. A few examples would include Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Jerry Kosinski, Jack London, Malcolm Lowry, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Hunter S. Thompson, John Kennedy Toole, and Virginia Woolf. In 1949, Ross Lockridge Jr., a year after the publication of his bestselling novel, Raintree County, gassed himself to death in his newly purchased car. Who knows why so many successful writers kill themselves. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that many writers are odd, high-strung wrecks. Many slip into despair, some go mad, and a number get hooked on booze and drugs. In a few cases, the writer's suicide propells him or her into fame. In 1963, the poet Sylvia Plath, while living in London, gassed herself to death by placing her head into her oven. The 31-year-old writer was virtually unknown before she killed herself. Following her death, Plath became one of the most famous woman writers in the world. Vidal Gore, when speaking of another writer's suicide, wryly noted that for this particular novelist the suicide turned out to be a good career move. While an excellent writer, Mr. Gore was a horse's ass. But he did not die by his own hand. It's quite amazing, however, that he wasn't murdered by Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, William Buckley, or any number of writers who hated his guts. Writers, what a messed up bunch.

Thornton P. Knowles

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